For America, Britain and most of the western world the main purpose of a corporate negotiation is to acquire a contract. This differs greatly from the Chinese mode of prioritizing 'relationship building' during the negotiation procedure. Chinese businessmen gain these good relationships through the act of wining and dining their foreign business associates and essentially aim to create long term relationships with their US, UK and European counterparts. The difference in approach may explain why certain Chinese negotiators, whose negotiating goal is the creation of a relationship rather than just a contract, tend to give more time and effort to negotiation preliminaries. In contrast to this, British companies tend to rush through the beginning of a negotiation as they find it irrelevant to the final outcome. The Chinese insist on performing vast amounts of due diligence and research on the company they are doing business with - doing so not only as a precaution but as a sign of respect.
This one way system is mirrored in the Chinese business tendency to promote translation services. Far eastern businessmen are more than willing to commit vast amounts of time and resource to improving their own English skills, as well as the English skills of their company. Does this have a part to play in the development of a wholesome and developed Chinese negotiation strategy - a strategy that outstrips the capabilities of its western equivalents? I would say so.
Language has an enormous role to play in the success of foreign investment. For too long, British companies have relied on the enthusiasm of their Chinese counterparts and their willingness to conduct operations in English - is it not time to acknowledge that this leaves the Anglophone western businessman at a serious disadvantage?
Thankfully, more and more savvy western entrepreneurs are enlisting the help of simultaneous translation services - encouraging large Chinese conference style negotiations to remain operable in Chinese whilst relying on the trusted translations of the agency they have used. This is beneficial for two reasons: firstly it allows for a greater stream of respect, allowing native businessmen to speak fluently and without undue effort and secondly it affords the western businessman a real advance in securing the accurate translation he needs. Going down this route negates the possibility of having the wool pulled over one's eyes - and in business terms that is a useful bullet to dodge.